ECDC publishes risk assessment after human cases of avian influenza A(H5N8) infection identified

02 March 2021

Article: 55/0902

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published a threat assessment brief, which considers the risk of infection related to avian influenza A(H5N8) virus in the general population and the occupationally exposed. On 20 February 2021, Russian authorities reported the detection of influenza A(H5N8) virus infection in seven workers on a poultry farm in the south of Russia, in an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N8) virus. All seven cases were reported to be mild or asymptomatic.

No previous transmission to humans has been reported from EU/EEA countries, or any other country globally related to A(H5Nx) viruses, since its first introduction to Europe in 2014. This assessment is the first report providing virological evidence of a zoonotic transmission of highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N8) virus from birds to humans, with no evidence of human-to-human transmission. The ECDC highlight that this threat assessment brief is based on limited data, and therefore there is uncertainty regarding the conclusions reached. Furthermore, the ECDC report that the risk of infection related to avian influenza A (H5N8) virus for the general public is assessed as very low, and for occupationally exposed people as low.

Source: ECDC, 24 February 2021